Made in 1960, on the heels of Breathless, Jean-Luc Godard’s second feature (and his first starring Anna Karina) is more typical of the intellectual rumination that would characterize his later work. Michel Subor plays a secret agent in Geneva who winds up being tortured by Algeria’s FLN–arguably more as a kind of macho testing, like the protracted beating of the hero in The Glass Key, than as a consequence of Sartrean position taking. For years Le petit soldat was banned in France for its treatment of torture and terrorism in the Algerian war; in fact Godard was closer to the right when he made it, but like his protagonist he was full of doubts. Subor’s contemplative voice-over and Raoul Coutard’s somber cinematography make this seem severe compared to the jazzy exuberance of Breathless.
Le Petit Soldat
1 hour 28 min • 2013